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DOE wants to see Jamaica High School fail: CB 8

Community Board 8 unanimously approved a resolution last week that strongly condemned the city Department of Education, claiming the agency is setting up Jamaica High School to fail.

The resolution, written by CB 8 member Kevin Forrestal, “calls upon the Department of Education to keep Jamaica High School open and demands that the Department of Education provide the school with full and equitable support for this zoned community-based comprehensive high school.”

The school has been recommended for closure by the DOE, which is expected to take action in the fall. A public hearing on the high school was scheduled this Thursday.

Forrestal noted that CB 8 approved a similar resolution last year, but last Thursday’s version was more strongly worded because “the atrocities against the students have gone a little further. The [DOE] took programs away from the Jamaica HS students.”

The resolution accused the DOE of unfairly putting two new schools inside Jamaica HS’s campus — The Hillside Arts & Letters Academy and the High School for Community Leadership — with resources such as smartboards and laptops that were not given to Jamaica.

It also said Jamaica HS students “endure oversized classes while students in the favored small schools enjoy the benefits of low student-to-teacher ratios and access to counseling help.”

CB 8 member Marc Haken, who introduced the resolution, said the city “has been slowly strangling Jamaica HS to death.”

Jamaica HS juniors Ali Khawaja and Tiffany Barja, who attended the CB 8 meeting, said the school’s AP government and Spanish programs have been cut along with music and pre-calculus.

“We had to fight [to retain] our AP U.S. history class,” Borja said.

CB 8 member and TimesLedger Newspapers columnist Bob Harris said his wife and two daughters went to the school, where he was also a former PTA president.

“We support the resolution. We support the school,” he said. “It has a great reputation.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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